By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Could people exposed to COVID-19 get a transfusion that would keep the virus at bay?

That’s something researchers at UCLA are exploring with a new clinical trial.

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When Jonathan Orens’ daughter flew home to the east coast from USC, she brought something with her: COVID.

“She got here and she felt great, but we thought it was important to get tested since she was coming from a hot spot,” he said. “She was totally asymptomatic and felt well. She tested positive and my wife and I tested negative.”

Orens happens to be a doctor at Johns Hopkins, so his colleagues told him about a clinical trial at the hospital: giving those exposed to COVID plasma- rich with antibodies- from someone who recovered from the virus- to help prevent them from getting sick. Antibodies are the natural defense of the immune system.

UCLA has partnered with Johns Hopkins on two clinical trials, one for those who have been exposed to COVID and the other for those who are already sick.

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“So we think that by taking the antibodies from a person who has recovered from COVID, and giving them to someone who just got diagnosed with COVID, we can limit the disease,” said Dr. Judith Currier, chief of the division of infectious diseases at UCLA.

With a vaccine- it takes weeks for a person to build antibodies, but with a transfusion of plasma- protection is almost immediate. It’s also minimally invasive.

The Orens family (credit: CBS)

The trials started in June, and should continue until the end of the year. UCLA is actively looking for participants. For those who have tested positive for COVID, they need to have had symptoms for less than 8 days to enroll. For those who have been exposed, it must have been within the last 96 hours.

As for Orens, neither he nor his wife ever came down with COVID.

The trials are what they call double blind studies. So both the patient and the doctor do not know who is getting the plasma and who is getting the placebo. So it’s not known yet if these treatments are successful.

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Click here to apply for one of the clinical trials or call 888-506-1199.